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Art Bash! Baroque Ball in support of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

In just three years, Art Bash!, which serves as the Art Gallery of Ontario’s key fundraiser, has taken one of the top spots on Toronto’s fall social calendar. Andy Warhol’s foil-lined New York factory and the wonderfully eccentric style of Venetian arts patron Marchesa Casati (an Augustus John portrait of the flame-haired figure is among the galleries most beloved), inspired the first and second incarnations of the event. For year three, held on Nov. 23, the institution looked to its current exhibition, Early Rubens, and settled on baroque – complete with all things gilded and ornate – as the guiding theme.

Baillie Court on the gallery’s third floor looked rather marvellous, done up for the occasion by party designer Jeff Roick with tables that brimmed with flowers. Overhead hung rather contemporary metal scaffolding that held wonderful digital prints that called to mind Michelangelo’s great ceilings in the Sistine Chapel. Nearby, a substantial still life by Briony Douglas – with beachball-sized oranges and grapes as big as your head – titled Big Baroque was on offer. With speeches kept to a minimum, conversation during dinner flowed. My seatmate was fashion designer Mani Jassal, a bright talent whose spirited spin on traditional Indian dressing has garnered a considerable following and was included in a fashion showcase that popped-up during the evening.

After dinner, dessert was served downstairs in Walker Court under the Frank Gehry-designed staircase. Dotting the perimeter of the space were nude models more commonly seen at the gallery’s popular life-drawing classes (fitting as funds from the eve support AGO programming and education). In the centre of it all was a dancing space, which to my delight, actually saw the soles of Toronto’s big-givers’ shoes. Among them out at this latest, co-chaired by Sonja Berman and Dean Bender: philanthropist Emmanuelle Gattuso; financier Ira Gluskin and Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, who serves as honorary chair of the AGO board of trustees; real-estate developer David Feldman and his wife, Angela, who served on the event committee; AGO board of trustees vice-presidents Andrew Federer, vice-chairman at RBC Capital Markets (RBC served as a presenting sponsor), philanthropist Rosamond Ivey, and Jay Smith (first VP at CIBC Wood Gundy); Christie’s international consultant Brett Sherlock; and of course, AGO director and CEO Stephan Jost and his husband, Will Scott. North of $860,000 was raised during the evening. Early Rubens runs through January 5.

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Brett Sherlock.Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

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Devin Connell and Darcy Morris.Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

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Event co-chair Sonja Berman with Emmanuelle Gattuso.Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

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Lynda Latner and Maxine Granovsky Gluskin.Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

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Marianne Guizzetti and Robin Turack.Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

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